An indoctrination program that was shut down at the University of Delaware last year after it was revealed the teachings included, “All whites are racist,” now is being revived, and an organization monitoring such educational behavior is concerned there will be violations similar to those of a year ago.
Adam Kissell, a spokesman for The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told WND his worry is that this year’s “program” for incoming students at Delaware has the same “learning outcomes” as a year ago, the same administrators are running it, and components appear simply to have been renamed, instead of changed.
WND reported a year ago when a series of teachings mandated for all residence halls told students “all whites are racists.”
University of Delaware President Patrick Harker
FIRE had written to university President Patrick Harker about its concerns, including its worries that “somehow, the University of Delaware seems terrifyingly unaware that a state-sponsored institution of higher education in the United States does not have the legal right to engage in a program of systematic thought reform.”
At that time, Samantha Harria, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy, suggested, “The First Amendment protests the rights of freedom of conscience … the right to keep our innermost thoughts free from governmental intrusion.”
She cited a school teaching that told students: “A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. ‘The term applies to all white people. …’”
Students came forward “in droves” in 2007 to complain, FIRE said, also citing concerns over indoctrination about homosexuality and environmentalism.
Under the program documentation revealed then, student managers of residence halls were told to summon students for one-on-one questioning during which they were instructed to respond to questions such as: “When did you discover your sexual identity?”
“Students who express discomfort with this type of questioning often meet with disapproval from their RAs, who write reports on these one-on-one sessions and deliver these reports to their superiors. One student identified in a write-up as an RA’s ‘worst’ one-on-one session was a young woman who stated that she was tired of having ‘diversity shoved down her throat,’” FIRE said.
This particular student responded to the question, “When did you discover your sexual identity?” with the terse: “That is none of your damn business,” FIRE said.
Kissell told WND today FIRE is concerned that some of the labels may have been changed in the program, but the underlying indoctrination plans remain.
“I think it’s likely we’ll need to do something more. We have every expectation that the Delaware office of residence life will continue to push its ideology onto students,” he told WND.
He noted that Harker, in his announcement earlier about the controversial program, said it was being suspended and officials would work together on making changes.
This year’s program proposes an “interactive bulletin board” for students on the subject “How do you define love?”
“This could be a great topic,” Kissell noted in his analysis of the program. “I should note, however, that an earlier draft called this topic ‘Gay Marriage & Civil Unions,’ so we can predict what the RAs (residential hall assistants) will highlight first.”
“Again, this may be a great discussion if treated honestly, but I have little trust that ResLife can handle even the most meritorious topics without coercion and without disrespect for the right of private conscience.”
Officials at Delaware declined to allow WND to ask Harker any questions, and there was no answer at a media office to which WND was directed for comment on the program.
Kissell said the teaching program for new students “is all about indoctrination into a highly politicized agenda.”
Specifically, its goal is to change students’ “thoughts, values, beliefs, and actions.”
“This is a legal minefield. It is morally reprehensible,” Kissell said. “It still wrests away from the faculty its historic prerogative to oversee education at the University of Delaware. Its vague language merely hides its original intent – with the same programming, only in different words.”
He said while the program is called optional, that description is “hard to swallow.”
“These are the same people who called the program a ‘treatment’ for students who ResLife has tagged as morally and ideologically deficient,” he wrote in an analysis of the work.
Of special concern are the “conversations” that are between student residence hall managers and students, Kissell said.
“What will the oversight be? Will RAs know not to ask invasive questions? Will they be instructed to focus on diversity and tolerance and sustainability, or will they genuinely listen and respond to what each student actually wants to talk about?”
Kissell cited the plans for university-mandated “sustainability definitions” to introduce students “to key sustainability terms and concepts.”
“I hope that this is not a return to Shakti Butler-inspired ideas that, for instance, all whites are racist oppressors,” he said.
Kissell said the program also features “guilt trips,” because, “At each social event, information will be posted on walls and event supplies to inform students of the economic and environmental impact of the event and items.”
“Indeed, ResLife still wants students to emerge as change agents by their senior year. Students will be ‘encouraged to choose a sustainable goal,’” the FIRE analysis reported.
The organization also has written to Howard Cosgrove, chairman of the university’s trustees, on the issue.
“FIRE is gravely concerned about the threat to freedom of conscience posed by the University of Delaware’s proposed resident life education program,” the organization’s letter said.
“This educational plan maintains many of the objectionable goals and activities that were in last year’s halted program,” said FIRE.
“The legal problems posed by last year’s Residence Life education program are abundant and cut to the core of the most essential rights of a free people. The proposed Residence Life education program remains a legal minefield. Please know, however, that our objection to this program is far more than legalistic. What made last year’s program so offensive was its brazen disregard for autonomy, dignity, and individual conscience, and the sheer contempt it displayed for all of the university’s incoming students. With similar but ambiguous programming, similar goals, and the same staff in place, the proposed program remains deeply problematic.”